Learn Keyboard Bernardsville














Major Scales

Here is how you can learn keyboard major scales. On the piano keyboard:

  • A half-step is the distance from one key to the next. It may be a white key, or it may be a black key.
  • A whole-step is made up of two half-steps.

A Major Scale is built on a pattern of

  • whole-step, whole-step, half-step
  • whole-step, whole-step, whole-step, half-step

Learn Keyboard Intervals

SECOND

From C to D is the interval of a 2nd.

THIRD

From C to E is the interval of a 3rd. E is the middle tone of a major chord.

FOURTH

From C to F is the interval of a 4th.

FIFTH

From C to G is the interval of a 5th.

SIXTH

From C to A is the interval of a 6th. This is one tone above the 5th.

SEVENTH

From C to B is a 7th.

EIGHTH (OCTAVE)

From C to C is the interval of an octave. This is the same tone eight notes higher.

















Build a Major Chord

An example of a simple chord is the triad. A triad is made of three tones which are sounded at the same time. In the key of C Major, the below example is a first triad built (chord) on C.

Put your left finger on C, and with your right hand count up 4 half-steps. ( A half-step is the distance from one key to the next. It doesn't matter whether that key is black or white.) So we start going up by half-steps; C#, D, D#, E, (1,2,3,4). We have gone up 4 half-steps and we are now on E. E is the next note of our triad.

Now hold down the E with your left finger and count up 3 half-steps with your right hand; F, F#, G, (1,2,3). You are now on G and G is the top note of the triad.

Play the three notes together; C,E,G. This is the C Major chord or triad in root position. C is the low (bottom) note of the chord.

All major chords in root position will have this pattern of 4 half-steps and 3 half-steps. If the bottom note is on a line, the chord will be line-line-line. If the bottom note is on a space, the chord will be space-space-space.

Chord Numbers and Inversions

As you learn piano, you can build a major chord on each note of the scale. We use Roman numerals to mark them.

  • If the chord is built on the first note of the scale, it is a I (One) chord.
  • If the chord is built on the 4th note of the scale, we call it a IV (Four) chord.
  • If it is built on the 5th note of the scale, it is a V (Five) chord.

In C Major, C is the first note of the scale, so we build the I (One) chord on C.

  • F is the 4th note of the scale, so we build the IV (Four) chord on F.
  • G is the 5th note of the scale, so let's build the V (Five) chord on G.

After we build the chords in root position , we can change the notes around.

Instead of a C,E,G chord, we can put the E as the bottom note and we now have E,G,C as the tones of the chord. We call this the first inversion of the chord.

Put the G on the bottom to make a G,C,E chord and this is the second inversion of the chord.

The V7 Chord

When you build a V (Five) chord in C Major, the bottom note is G because G is the 5th note of the C Major scale. We know that the G chord is made up of the notes G,B, and D. Now if you add the 7th tone of the scale, F, you have a nice sound for harmony. We can invert the chord and sometimes we leave out one of the tones.

To move from the I (One) chord to the V7 (Five-seven) chord:

  • keep the top note the same
  • move the middle note up one-half step
  • move the bottom note down one-half step

Chord Progressions

In this section of piano lessons, we will learn the chord progression I (One), IV (Four), I, V7 (Five-Seven), I. This series of chords if very useful when harmonizing songs.

In the key of C Major, the I (One) chord is C,E,G. This is the root position. Play this chord.

Keep the bottom note where it is. Move the middle tone up one-half step, and move the top tone up two half-steps (one whole step). Now you are playing C,F,A. This is the IV (Four) chord (second inversion).

Go back to the I chord in root position; C,E,G.

Now move to the V7 (Five-Seven) chord by keeping the top note in place and move the middle tone up one-half step, and the bottom tone down one-half step.

Now go back to the I chord in root position.

First play it with the left hand, then with the right hand, and then with both hands.

Add Harmony

There are many different ways to use chords to add harmony to a melody. One example is creating a bass beat in 4/4 time using the three notes of the C Major triad with the left hand. Another is using the Major triads to play a note on each beat of a measure according to the treble melody. You can play the chords in different keys.

You will soon be able to tell whether you need a I (One ) chord, a IV (Four) chord, or a V7 (Five-Seven) chord to harmonize with the notes. You may even find new ways to add harmony to your songs.

Practice learning how to use chords in different ways to harmonize in 4/4 time, 3/4 time, and 6/8 time.

To talk about about piano lessons with Barbara Ehrlich or Eric Bryant, please call or e-mail us!


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